“I couldn’t have children but I could give a life…”
A women’s story on how donating a kidney changed her life
I donated a kidney in honor or my sister who had kidney disease but who I couldn’t help because she died before I was able to donate my organ. So in her honor I said I was going to help someone else. I think I decided when she died which was in 2001, I was going to donate a kidney. I thought about it for a while but the deal was sealed when a friend of mine also gave a kidney and she did really well after the surgery. I thought well if she could do it I can do it too. So I was ready.
I called Columbia Presbyterian and they connected me to Saint Barnabas Medical Center. I got to choose the hospital, and it took me six months of testing for everything to be figured out. The National Kidney Registry took all my statistics and all my tests and fed it into a computer and through that the computer system found a match in Washington D.C. The man that received my kidney has not reached out to me yet but I did reach out to him through the hospital. I reached out to him through the coordinator at his hospital and she said that he is doing very well and his family is happy, and that is all that really matters to me.
This year the National Kidney Registry had a gala in New York City in honor of the donors. I got a trophy but it is really more of an award honoring what they called “American heroes” because of what I did. There were sixteen other donors besides me that also received awards. The youngest girl at my table was 21 which I found remarkable. The two other people at my table were around my age. Throughout my process I saved seven lives from donating my kidney. My kidney went to the man in Georgetown, and the person that was his relative or friend was a match to someone else and that person who received that kidney also had a person who was willing to donate one of their kidneys but was unfortunately not a match for their loved one so after their significant other received a lifesaving kidney they donated one of their own. So it went from New Jersey to five other states and the last person to receive the kidney got it at the same hospital where I donated mine. It worked as a chain reaction from family to family. It all started because of the kidney that I donated altruistically was not for a particular person.
I would do it over again in a heartbeat. It was truly an amazing experience. I am so happy that I saved a life and it really did change my life in the process. It made me feel like I had a reason to be on this earth. I couldn’t have children due to infertility, but I could give a life to someone.